Gilbert V. Growcott died in 1981, in his early 70s. He lived
and died in Detroit, where he was Recording Brother of the old Berean
Christadelphian ecclesia for many years. This was a large ecclesia until the
reunion of 1953-54 took most of the members into the Central fellowship. GVG and
a literal handful remained as the Berean ecclesia in the area, and traveled to
Texas every year thereafter to attend the week-long Berean gathering --- where
he was one of the featured speakers, and where I made his acquaintance many
GVG was always known as "Rene" (pronounced Reen -- long e). I
was told that this was because as a small child he often avowed his desire to
grow up and become a "Marine", except that it came out as 'rine -- hence the
If this story is true, it is an extraordinary mismatch in one
way -- because Rene was the kindest and most non-militant of men. He was a
lifelong bachelor who -- so far as could be made out -- never saved anything,
but always gave away all he had (or nearly so) to those who had need. He was the
de facto editor of the Berean magazine for years, but never assumed the title --
although he did most of the editing, layout, typing, and printing and mailing
He was a voluminous reader, and was characterized by the large
satchel he carried to all the meetings, stuffed with concordances, Bibles,
commentaries, and other Bible works, and files of his meticulous notes --
everything precisely in its place. All the books were cut on a professional
binder to eliminate all extraneous margins to the pages, and then labeled in
black indelible ink on the edges of the pages -- this was done so as to fit
another 2 or 3 sizeable books into his carrying case.
His exhortations were, in my opinion, classics -- although I
would not classify him as a dynamic speaker. He wrote out his talks, and when he
stood up to deliver them he invariably fixed his gaze just above the last row of
listeners, and talked into the air. He gave the sense of the text in the
simplest, and yet most profound, expositions. As a child, I thought he always
talked too long, but as I grew up and began really listening, I sometimes wished
he wouldn't stop.
I never knew Rene to get angry or raise his voice or attack
anyone with words spoken or written -- although in every discussion he plainly
knew more about almost every subject than did anyone else. He was always calm
and dignified -- what some might take for pomposity, but what I really believe
was a serious attempt to maintain the fruits of the Spirit at all times. I don't
remember Rene ever saying anything that was particularly funny or even amusing.
But I do remember him saying and writing many things that were most profound. He
was always obsessed with the Bible aspects of practical holiness.
I don't know that Rene had any hobbies or "outside interests".
His time was spent on his daily work (until he retired) and Bible study and work
for the Truth. But I never knew him to criticize others because of their hobbies
or pursuits. And though he had no children of his own, he was always attentive
and kind to other children, including myself.
He lived in the basement of a Christadelphian couple's house,
with -- literally -- nothing more than a bed and a desk and a chair and a lamp,
and shelves and shelves of books. All the books were cut down as described
above, and laid flat and stored on edge (with titles written in black ink on the
edges of the pages), so as to fit a couple more shelves on each wall.